CDC Questions Council President Over Elimination of Project Coordinator Position

A plan to cut the Pulaski County Community Development Commission’s two-member staff down to one had CDC members asking the county council president for answers Tuesday. The council voted four-to-three last week to remove funding for the CDC’s project coordinator position from the 2020 budget proposal.

Council President Jay Sullivan, who serves as the council’s representative on the CDC, said he discussed the proposed cut with two or three other council members individually, before last week’s meeting. As for why they chose that particular position, he said the deciding factor was that it was the county’s newest full-time position, but there were also other concerns. “The economic development, the CDC, the director, and the [project coordinator] – when companies elect to come into the community, they are the first ones that would be talked to,” Sullivan explained. “They would then, in turn, need to have a very positive attitude towards the community, towards the county, and towards the officials that run the county, and there has been some concern about that amongst some of the members. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Sullivan also felt the position was one of the areas they could cut with the least amount of impact on the county. But CDC Executive Director Nathan Origer noted that the cut would only save the county $45,000, and the CDC had already cut $72,000 from this year’s budget to next year’s. “We cut health insurance because my wife is on her own coverage through work now,” he said. “We cut out all of our overtime budget. We cut out our intern for next year. We cut back on marketing a little bit. We cut back on all of the land acquisition money. We cut 25.1 percent of our budget.”

Meanwhile, Project Coordinator Krysten Hinkle, whose job would be eliminated under the current budget proposal, said she’s leaving either way. “But to deprive this office of a full-time position to do what I do, whether you recognize what I do or not, is criminal, not legally, not really, but I think morally criminal,” she said. “To dismantle this position that I have, whether I’m here or not – you’re mad at me, that’s fine. Get rid of me. I don’t care. I’m not staying either way. But for the betterment of this county, this position needs to exist.”

Hinkle also complained that when Council Member Rudy DeSabatine made the motion to cut her position last week, he referred to her as a secretary, rather than her actual job title. She felt that it showed that council members weren’t aware of what she actually does. “You can’t possibly be a female in Pulaski County and have a male boss and not be a secretary,” she added. “No matter if you have a master’s degree or résumé three pages long, it doesn’t matter, you’re a secretary. It’s true! This is absolute sexism at its finest!”

The county council is scheduled to finalize the 2020 budget next Monday.